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De Villiers defends Burger 'gouging'

South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has defended flanker Schalk Burger following his eight-week ban.

The Springboks have yet to decide on any appeal after Burger was found guilty of making contact with the face in the eye area of British and Irish Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald in Saturday's Second Test.

Television footage showed Burger's fingers clearly making contact with Fitzgerald's eye - an incident that happened inside the first minute.

Fitzgerald was able to continue after treatment, but Burger escaped with only a yellow card when referee Christophe Berdos should have sent him off.

Burger is currently sidelined until late August, ruling him out of next Saturday's third Test against the Lions and South Africa's first three Tri-Nations fixtures.

De Villiers said today: "I have watched the television footage, and I am still convinced that nothing he did was on purpose.

"He never meant to go to anyone's eye, and we will now wait for the full report.

"He is an honourable man."

South Africa are also without lock Bakkies Botha for the third Test after he received a two-week ban for a dangerous charge on Lions prop Adam Jones that left the Wales international nursing a dislocated shoulder that required surgery.

And South Africa's problems might not end there, as a quartet of players are nursing injuries following their victory in Pretoria.

Back row forward Danie Rossouw is being monitored after taking a bang to his head following a collision with Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll, while Botha's prospective replacement Andres Bekker is nursing a knee injury.

Centre Jean de Villiers and scrum-half Fourie du Preez, are nursing shoulder problems, although both are expected to be available for the series finale.